The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

California State University Fresno has settled a suit brought by a female former volleyball coach who accused the school of sex discrimination. The settlement was reached 18 months after a California Superior Court jury returned a $5.85 million verdict in the favor of Lindy Vivas …

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A government employee has won a jury trial against Contra Costa County, and the verdict may cost the county more than $1 million.

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Fifteen companies headquartered in California have made the 2009 Fortune magazine “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. Why did so many California companies make the list? Great benefits seem to be the reason.

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The downturn has hit California hard. Many stable California employers find themselves for the first time contemplating reductions in force in order to survive. If you’re considering a large-scale layoff, be prepared to familiarize yourself with California’s version of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.

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Not every little lost privilege or benefit translates into a winning lawsuit for employees. Minor changes such as temporarily losing the use of a company car aren’t serious enough to constitute an “adverse employment action.”

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A forecast by the U.S. Conference of Mayors says the Los Angeles area will suffer some of the largest job losses in the nation in 2009. It’s expected to lose about 164,000 jobs this year …

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Workers who alleged they had to endure marathon schedules while working on reality television shows such as “Trading Spouses” and “The Bachelor” have agreed to settle their lawsuits …

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When it comes to reducing the time and expense of litigation, be careful what you wish for. Attorneys often advise employers to consider adopting arbitration clauses to settle employment disputes. With arbitration, no jury is involved; the case stays out of court; there’s no bad publicity; and it may be cheaper—or maybe not.

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California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires employers whose disabled employees ask for accommodations to “engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process with the employee … to determine effective reasonable accommodations.” The key is to act promptly.

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Remind all hiring managers and supervisors that absolutely no racial slurs are allowed during an interview—not even in passing or in jest. Applicants who aren’t hired will get a jury trial if they can show that someone with hiring authority uttered a racial slur.

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